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by Abigail Van Buren

Playground Talk Turns Serious When Pushy Teacher Interferes

DEAR ABBY: I have a teacher who supervises the playground. A group of other students and I usually prefer to sit and talk during recess.

We were talking about the newspaper, and somewhere in the conversation, your name came up. This teacher overheard us, and said that our conversation was inappropriate. She said "Dear Abby" deals with adult issues, and that we're not allowed to talk about those things.

Abby, do you consider yourself as dealing with only adult problems, or problems concerning people of all ages? She also won't let us talk in private. What should we do about her? (Remember, she IS a teacher.) -- ANNOYED IN L.A.

DEAR ANNOYED: Under no circumstances should you be disrespectful to this teacher. She probably means well, but she is mistaken. Although my columns usually deal with adult issues, they are meant for children as well as adults, and are written in language that people of all ages can understand. In fact, I'm told that my column has been used in classrooms to encourage discussions on topics such as drinking and smoking, and to spark interest in class activities such as writing to people in the military at holiday times.

You and your friends should go to your principal as a group and ask what the school's policy is about discussing items you've read in the newspaper. Clip this column and take it with you.